Clayton Kershaw won't need surgery, making him unique among Dodgers

Stephen Dunn - Getty Images

The Dodgers have several players who will spend their winters recovering from some sort of medical procedure. Ace Clayton Kershaw will not be one of them, though he will have a modified workout to help strengthen his right hip.

The Dodgers held their first organizational meetings of the offseason on Thursday, one day after their season ended without a playoff appearance for the third straight year. The main goal of the winter for several Dodgers might just be recuperation.

Center fielder Matt Kemp will have arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder on Friday in Los Angeles, a procedure that could be as simple as a clean-up or as complicated as a repair of his frayed labrum. But no matter the course Kemp's surgery takes, the center fielder likely won't miss any time in 2013.

"In talking with (head athletic trainer) Sue Falsone and (senior director of medical services) Stan Conte yesterday, (doctors will) know more once they get in there," said manager Don Mattingly on Thrusday. "All scenarios that I have heard is that Matt will be ready to play opening day and for spring training."

Clayton Kershaw won't be joining Kemp in the operating table, however, despite a right hip impingement that briefly sidelined the left-hander in September. Kershaw had one start pushed back two days, then was skipped another time during the month, giving him 11 days in between starts. Since that layoff, which included a trip to see hip specialist Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York, Kershaw allowed two runs in 21 innings in his final three starts of the season.

"We talked to the top three hip specialists in the country. We kept gathering information. As the medication started to take over he just started to get better and better," said general manager Ned Colletti. "Things can always come back, but the way it's been described to me there is a really good chance (the hip impingement) won't come back. If it was a for sure thing that it would come back he'd be having surgery today."

Rather than surgery, Kershaw will modify his offseason workouts per Colletti, "in a way that will strengthen (the hip)."

Kershaw is one of six starting pitchers under contract for 2013, with $66.25 million committed to Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang. But despite that, the Dodgers will likely be in the market for a starting pitcher, something identified by Colletti as one of the club's biggest needs.

"Pitching, you can never have enough. Ted Lilly is coming off surgery. Chad Billingsley is still in an area where we will wait and see in the next few weeks. I would say starting pitching is a need," Colletti said. "We don't know what we're going to get from players that are recuperating now or hopefully avoiding surgery. We can't wait until we find out."

Scott Elbert had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Sept. 19, and fellow relief pitcher Kenley Jansen is expected to have cardiac ablation surgery soon, a procedure to correct his irregular heartbeat. Utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. had hip surgery on Sept. 10, but all are expected back in time for spring training.

"Of everybody that we have that is undergoing surgery, there is nobody I can think of off the top of my head that will be questionable in spring training," Colletti said. "Carl Crawford is probably the one whose arm will take a little bit more time to come back, strength wise, but offensively he should be able to hit well before then."

Crawford had Tommy John surgery on Aug. 23, just two days before he was acquired in a blockbuster nine-player trade with the Red Sox. The Dodgers on Thursday officially sent pitcher Rubby De La Rosa and outfielder Jerry Sands to Boston as players to be named later to complete the deal.

Despite having 28 different disabled list stints by 20 players in 2012, Colletti did not lay blame on the training staff.

"I think a lot of the injuries were things that you can't help. But we looked at everything," Colletti said. "You can control some of what happens, but you can't control all of it."

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